09 August 2001 | Liam O'Brien
The Office of Government Commerce has moved to quash suggestions that the government procurement card (GPC) could be used to fund illicit purchases following a report highlighting widespread abuse of the US military's purchasing card.
The US congressional investigation organisation, the General Accounting Office, recently found that Pentagon employees had purchased the equivalent of £6.3 million of non-work related goods and services.
One soldier spent $3,100 in a nightclub. Another left the service owing $20,000 on his card, while another serviceman's wife used a card to fund a $13,000 shopping spree in Puerto Rico.
An OGC spokesman told SM that there has been no such abuse of the GPC and it was "highly unlikely" because the cards had been issued far more selectively than in the US. The GPC, based on the best features of the US and Australian cards, is given only to those who regularly need them and those in relatively senior positions.
"There is a very tight rein on the issuing and use of GPCs in the UK. Our checks and balances are as vigorous as they can be. If you give the cards out like Smarties then you are bound to get some abuse of them," he added.